As our bus pulled on to the property, the faculty members began running into the parking area with excitement so as to welcome us. As we got off the bus a "reception" line was immediately formed so that each U.S. teacher could shake the hand of each 49 JHS teacher. Another U.S. colleague commented that it looked like to sports teams doing the "good game" handshake at the end of a game. We then noticed that the third floor balcony of the school had smiling faces and hands waving; those students who were invited to come for a special class time were excited to see us too.
|The open air feel of the building is ideal for this climate|
We were escorted to a meeting room in which the principal of 49 JHS gave a welcoming speech. Two things stood out to me: 1) the head principal of this public school is a woman (my preconceived notions about gender issues in Indonesia) and 2) she made several overtly religious comments as part of a teachers' meeting in a PUBLIC school. For a public school principal to thank God for the blessings of bringing guests to his/her school and to ask for His protection and peace to be granted violates the American norms of "separation of church and state" and yet this is a common practice within this Muslim majority nation.
|Principal of 49 JHS|
Following this opening session, we then split up into four groups by teaching discipline (Math, Sciences, Language Arts, and Social Sciences) for what our travel agenda called observing a typically classroom experience. As soon as the classroom door shut behind myself and my three other Social Science colleagues from the U.S., the 49 JHS teacher asked us what we would like to teach to the students. We were prepared to observe him teach and yet the principal had indicated to her staff that she wanted us to be the ones to present to the students. So we "winged" it. We asked students about what were things they liked to do in Indonesia and had them ask us questions about ourselves, our students, and life in the U.S.
|Student answering one of our questions|
This question and answer period allowed itself to turn into the opportunity for me to pass out some of the postcards I had brought which have hand written messages from elementary students (see previous post). The students were SOOO excited about seeing the pictures on the cards AND to read the messages sent to them from the U.S. Within moments a young girl asked me if they could write messages back and then one-by-one each student pulled out a sheet of paper and began writing. Ok...pause...those far all of our conversation AND the notes these Indonesian students were writing and been in ENGLISH. Yes!!! during 8th grade these students were proficient and comfortable enough within their language skills to be communicating entirely in English.
|Student reading the postcard message he received|
|Students busy writing messages back to their peers in the U.S.|
As students were finishing their messages back to the U.S. I ended up passing out another gift to each of them. The Junior Class Sponsors at Southmoore had donated a bunch of key chains from our very first prom back in the Spring of 2009. During the question and answer session noted above the issues of extra curricular activities like dances and "prom" came up. So I thought this would a great time to give out some of these key chains. They students loved these especially when they learned each key chain included a photo frame for putting in a special picture.
|Students showing off their new key chains|
After this time with students, we returned to a gathering with all of the teachers and had a discussion on what "global education" is all about; this discussion was accomplished within small 3-4 minute small group discussion periods followed by full group debriefing.
|49 JHS teachers who were in my small group for discussion|
After a time with the full group, we once again divided by disciplines in order to discuss with our Indonesian Social Studies counterparts how to accomplish global education within our own classrooms. While it was great to be able to visit with these teachers, there seemed to be some translation errors that prevent us from having effective communication. I could sense the disappointment from both sets of teachers when questions asked by one culture never seemed to be answered by the other and we seemed to wonder if the translator was able to effectively communicate the answers and questions back and forth. But everyone remained all smiles and wanted their pictures taken with us as we finished.
|Social Science teachers from U.S. & Indonesia|
All in all, this visit to 49 Junior High School has set a great tone of the visits I will be having with schools, teachers, administrators, and most importantly STUDENTS within Indonesia.